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Reviewers: Tony Augarde, Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Laura Dubin Trio

Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

2CDs [59:16 + 56:30]

Self-Produced – No Number




CD 1

This Could Be The Start of Something Big

Thunderstorm (Dubin)

Ode to O.P. (Dubin)

Medley: Prelude from ‘Le Tombeau de Couperin / My Favorite Things

Medley: Prelude to A Kiss / Waltz Op.64 No. 1 [Chopin]

I Got Rhythm

Handful of Keys

Sonata No. 8 ‘Pathétique’

Green Arrow (Dubin)

Doc Z. (Dubin)

Anxiety (Dubin)


Something’s Cookin (Dubin)

Waltz for Bill (Dubin) / It’s De-Lovely

Invention for Nina (Dubin)

New York

Medley:No Mystery / Now He Sings, Now He Sobs / Spain

Kelly Green (Dubin)

On Fire

Medley: Reflets dans l’eau / Our Love is Here to Stay

Sonata No.11 ‘Rondo alla Turca’

Barcelona (Dubin)

Laura Dubin (piano)

Kieran Hanlon (bass)

Antonio H. Guerrero (drums)

rec. July 2 2016, Xerox Auditorium, Rochester (NY)

First of all, I must apologise for so belated a review of a CD issued in October 2016. I received a review copy early in the following month, dipped into it and was very favourably impressed. A few days later a piano-playing friend (whose interests are more inclined to the classical repertoire than to jazz) came round for an evening in which over a glass or three of wine we would listen to some discs. I played him a few tracks from this 2 CD set. My friend was particularly impressed by the way Ms. Dubin created medleys which involved both classical and ‘jazz’ materials. So much so, that he asked if he could borrow the CDs “for a few days”. Hitherto he had always been very reliable in such matters, but on this occasion, despite frequent requests, it was only a week ago that I finally prised the album back from him. (His reluctance to part with it before then is a kind of testimony to its quality).

Although I don’t know exactly when she was born, I have been able to work out that Laura Dubin must have been about 25 or 26 when this album was recorded. She is a native of Rochester (NY) and to be invited to perform at the prestigious jazz festival in her home city must have been something she regarded as a real honour. It wasn’t just local favouritism, however; she is an impressive talent, who would grace any jazz festival or concert hall.

It is not surprising to find a track called ‘Ode to O.P.’ – the initials very obviously referring to Oscar Peterson – since one is often made to think of Peterson when listening to this trio at work. Not because Dubin is a slavish imitator of Peterson, but because she has a similar command of pretty well all the idioms of jazz piano from, say, ragtime through to Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner. As with Peterson, there is a tremendous sense of exuberance in her playing. In both cases it is partly a pianist’s (non-narcissistic) revelling in his/ her own inventiveness. At times, I sense in Dubin’s playing (as one does in Peterson’s) a surprised joy in what she finds herself playing, as if she were so absorbedd in her intensity of improvisation that she finds herself doing something she hadn’t consciously chosen to do.

Whilst Dubin may not have quite the astonishing technical fluency of Peterson in his prime – though she is no slouch in this regard – she certainly has an equal rapidity of mind and a much more than average endowment of imagination and invention. ‘Ode to O.P.’ is not the only more or less explicit ‘tribute’ here. ‘Waltz for Bill’, with a glance at ‘his ‘’Waltz for Debby’, remembers Bill Evans; ‘Handful of keys’ is a homage to Fats Waller which is far more than mere pastiche. Chick Corea is celebrated by a medley of three of his compositions: ‘No Mystery – Now He Sings, Now He Sobs – Spain’. But there are echoes of other pianists too – joyful echoes not dutiful imitations; she uses allusion and part-quotation as well as a fine poet does, so that one finds her evoking stride piano, Errol Garner, Wynton Kelly (as on ‘Kelly Green’), ragtime, Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner (e.g. ‘Thunderstorm’) and Nina Simone (‘Invention for Nina’). I am conscious that a list like this may mislead. Dubin’s wit and invention absorb and synthesise her familiarity with (seemingly) the whole tradition of jazz piano into something new and distinctive (particularly true given that her ‘tradition’ also includes Ravel, Mozart, Debussy and Beethoven. (There is a delightful surprise in the trio’s version of the opening of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique – I won’t spoil it by spelling it out now – just be alert for quotation and allusions).

Dubin can swing furiously – aided by the accomplished Kieran Hanlon on bass and the multi-talented Antonio Guerrero at the drums (apart from being a driving, but subtle drummer, and husband to Laura Dubin, Guerrero was also the recording engineer for this concert!). But she can also be delicate -as in ‘Prelude to A Kiss’ or ‘Reflets dans l’eau’ and ‘Our Love Is Here To Stay’. So, for piano trio jazz full of joyous wit and invention, of musical intelligence and sheer good humour, this takes some beating.

(By the way, the second CD, as well as almost an hour of fine music, contains some ‘extras’ – such as a brief video clip from the concert ( a full DVD can be bought from Laura Dubin’s website (see above), and there are several more clips from the concert on You Tube) and short comments by Dubin on each track.

Glyn Pursglove


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